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The Ramakrishna Mission 
Institute of Culture Library 

Presented by 

Dr. Baridbaran Mukerji 





A Lecture delivered in the Sorbonne at Paris, on J\me 15, 1911 








1. Giordano Bruno 1 

2. The Story of Giordano Bruno . . . .22 

Copy ri^h t Regi stered 
All Rig-hts Reserved 

Permission translations will be given 


Xhe Xheosophist Office, Adyar, Madras, India 



Three centuries and more have rolled away since 
Giordano Bruno, the Nolan, spoke in the Sorbonne of 
Paris ; not here he spoke, in this magnificent Hall 
in which we are gathered to-night ; but nevertheless 
it was in this same famous Sorbonne that he set forth 
his theories on the Infinite Universe, on the Universal 
Life, on the Immortality — or rather, the Eternity — of 
the human Spirit, and on the Life Heroic that leads to 
Human Perfection. ' 

Come with me up the stream of l^story to the six- 
teenth century. We are in the year 1576. Bruno, 
-having narrowly escaped the clutrfies of the Inquisition 
— which had tried to seize him in his monastery and 
to arraign him for a somewhat audacious pamphlet, in 
which he had jibed with caustic irony at the vices of 
the monks and had criticised, none too gently, some of 
the dogmas of the Church — had fled from the neigbour- 
hood of Naples and had betaken himself, with more 
courage than good sense, to Rome. Rome had no wel- 
come for the peccant monk, and finding there the same 
danger menacing him, he escaped to Noli, a small town 
of northern Italy, and sought to gain there a modest 


livelihood by teaching, dropping his garb of monk. 
Noli, however, proved a failure, and Geneva attracted 
his errant steps. But the Calvinist proved no less 
hostile to him than the Roman Catholic, for Beza, suc- 
cessor of Calvin, was hard as iron, and the ashes of the 
fire that had burned Servetus were scarcely cold. A 
hint that his arrest was ordered and that a similar fate 
might meet him, sent him, an agile climber, over the 
city wall, since the gates had been closed to cage him ; 
he betook himself to Lyons, later on to Toulouse— 
where the stake of Vanini glowed in the not distant 
future — and finally reached Paris. 

Eager to spread his ideas, he asked permission of 
the Sorbonne to lecture ; permission was given, and 
soon a professorship was offered, with the usual con- 
dition : a Sorbonne professor must attend the Mass. 
Now Bruno had no mind to attend Mass ; impatient of 
fa lsehood, frank to rashness, to him a lie in action was as 
base as a lie in words. But the times were dangerous ; 
often in Paris streets the cry rang out : “ The Mass — 
or death.” Yet/ d eath or no death, Giordano Bruno 
was resolute not to buy a professorship with a fraud, so 
of professorship he would have none.‘ What to do? 
How seat him in a chair in the Sorbonne ? Henry III, 
then King, was attracted for the moment by the young 
Italian. The students, careless of authority, would, by 
all means, hear the Nolan, so great a contrast to the 
ordinary professor ; his fiery and vivid eloquence ; his 
irony, now gay, now biting; his satirical humour, 

^ He said later as to this : “ I would not accept it, because it is the rule 
for lecturers in this city to attend Mass and the other Sacred Offices, and I 
have always avoided doing so, knowing that I was excommunicated for having 
left the religious life and unfrocked myself; and though in Toulouse I was 
lecturer in ordinary, I was not bound to do this, as I should have been bound 
in Paris had I accepted the post of lecturer in ordinary.” (Doc. IX). 


sometimes laughing and light, sometimes sardonic and 
bitter; his magnetic personality above all, drove them 
wild with enthusiasm. A way must be found, lest King 
should be angered, and students rise in revolt. “ Let 
us create for him a professorship extraordinary, without 
conditions,” said the somewhat alarmed authorities. It 
was done, and Giordano Bruno was named professor 
extraordinary, with permission to teach the dull and 
harmless system of Raymond Lully, a system of logic 
and mnemonics. To all appearance his subject was in- 
nocent enough, but the solemn University grey-beards did 
not know their new professor, truly extraordinary, and 
the way in which he could vivify the dreariest theme. 

To him, in truth, the theme was not dreary, but full 
of vivid possibilities, opening out to him vast horizons. 
For was not speech materialised thought ? that which 
in the intelligible world was Idea became Thought in 
the world of intelligence, and Object in the world of 
matter. Was not the Idea creator, while speech and 
object were only its creatures ? God Himself, when 
He willed to create a universe, mamfested Himself as 
Word, and the Word, in turn, was maae flesh. 

Under the veil of Lully, he*could teach the philo- 
sophy which he had breathed in his father’s house, 
the lore of Pythagorean Greece, transplanted into Italy. 

Let us see who this Giordano Bruno was, who for 
a brief time was the idol of the Paris students, and for 
a few months, at least, the favourite of a fanatical and 
weak King. 

He was born in the neighbourhood of Naples, in 
the little town of Nola, under the flashes of Vesuvius. 
This town had been once a city of some importance, 
dating from the Etruscan period, and perhaps colonised 


by some Greeks from Chalcis. Its inhabitants, brave 
and warlike folk, had guarded well their town through 
many a period of storm ; more than once the troops of 
Hannibal had rolled back broken from its walls. Later 
on, the town had been sacked by the Goths, and had 
fallen into the hands of the Saracens. When its best- 
known son, our Giordano Bruno, was born, it was little 
more than a heap of ruins. Yet over those ruins shone 
the mighty figure of Pythagoras, for the whole district 
was part of ‘ Greater Greece,’ and had been a centre of 
Greek philosophy ; the tradition of Greek thought and of 
the doctrines of the neo-platonic School of Alexandria 
was still living and potent, and it may be that, lying on 
the slopes of Vesuvius, the ardent boy dreamed of 
Hypatia, and half awed, half attracted, was fascinated 
and stimulated by her fate. 

It was in this atmosphere that Filippo Bruno, he 
who was to be known as Giordano, was born, and under 
the eegis of this philosophy he was nurtured. Moreover 
the boy listened ^gerly, with shining eyes, to the talk 
of the erudite cultured men who gathered in his 
father’s house, fervid lovers and devoted admirers of the 
philosophy and the ideals of Pythagorean Greece. 

His father was a man of cold, strong, balanced 
temperament, at times bordering on severity, and 
always austere ; a man of the type of the Stoic, a 
thorough Pagan of ancient times. Our philosopher 
recalls an incident of his childhood : One evening 
after supper, one of the neighbours cried gaily : “ Never 
did I feel so jolly as I feel at this moment.” The father 
answered grimly : “ Never wast thou such a fool as 

now.” ’ 

^ De gli Heroici Farori, Part I, Dial. ii. 


His mother was gentle and pious, timid and limit- 
ed in intelligence ; she tenderly loved her son, and her 
one hope, her one prayer for him, was that he should 
become a monk. 

From this strangely assorted pair, so opposed in 
temperament, was born this fiery spirit, this knight- 
errant of philosophy. A soul aflame, a spirit subtle 
and proud, an inspired orator, a prolific writer, at times 
himself carried away by the torrent of his own fatal 
facility — such was he whom Hegel called a “ comet 
that flashed across Europe.” whom Bernouf spoke of as 
“ this blazing spark of a fiery life ”. 

The mother’s prayer was fulfilled. Filippo Bruno, 
a mere boy, but fifteen years of age, steeped in the 
thought of Pythagoras, of Plotinus, of Porphyry, of 
Proclus, of lamblichus, entered a Dominican monastery, 
and hid his ardent heart under the frock of the monk. 
His superiors, unwisely delighted with his remarkable 
and precocious intelligence, dreamed of great glory to 
come through him to their monastenj^, and named him 
Giordano, after the successor of S. Donnie. So lightly 
did the boy’s feet tread the road which led to the Domin- 
ican monastery, and thence, by many a precipice and 
many a height and depth, to the Field of Flowers in 

Poor mother, dreaming of her son in the peaceful 
Nolan home, dreaming of a pious future, of holy sermons 
to devoted listeners — dreams never to be realised. Poor, 
simple, gentle heart, and narrow intelligence. It was 
as though a barnyard hen had hatched an eagle’s egg, 
and gazed up helplessly at the young eaglet that had 
nestled ’neath her wing, and then, grown strong, had 
cloven his way sunwards. She had dreamed of a saint, 


and had given birth to a hero ; she had planned for a 
monk, and behold ! a heretic and a martyr. Cruel, in 
truth, was the fate of the mother, but splendid the des- 
tiny of the son. For the red glow of Bruno’s funeral 
pyre was the rosy dawn of modern thought in Europe.' 
By his words he was to vivify life, by his martyrdom 
he was to slay death. 

To understand Bruno, to understand the intensity” 
of the passion, of the ardour, with which he proclaimed 
his message, we must realise the splendour of the light 
which had just burst upon the dazzled eyes of Europe, 
the immensity of the horizons it disclosed. 

In all civilised countries, the Hebraic cosmology 
dominated the world of thought, and Aristotle was the 
arbiter of all science, the adopted son of the Christian 
Church tyrannising equally over Rome and Geneva. 
To challenge Aristotle was as heretical as to challenge 
canonical Scripture : both were heretical, and heresy 
spelt death. The earth was immovably fixed, the centre 
of the universe ; and for this earth, God had suffered 
and died, and from it had ascended visibly to the fixed 
heaven arching above it ; everything had been created 
out of nothing for the sole benefit of the human race — 
for it the sun, moving amid the clouds, for it the silvery 
moon, for it the myriad stars ; beyond those stars, studded 
like golden nails in the revolving azure vault of the 
firmament, was the immutable heaven, the throne of 
God, the realm of saints and of angels. On high, 
above our heads, heaven with its delights; below, 
beneath our feet, hell with its torments. The Universe 
is finite — small, narrow, limited, walled in by visible 

^ The simile is due to M. Bartholmess. 


Not so ! cried out the new insurgent thought. The 
earth is rolling round the sun, one of a myriad worlds ; 
the sun is fixed, and round it the earth is travelling, 
with many another revolving ball ; there is no firma- 
ment, there is only space ; space above and below us, 
space stretching around us everywhere, space dotted 
with a million worlds, inhabited like our own. Where 
heaven and hell may be we know not ; there is room 
and to spare for every thing. 77/g Universe is infinite— 
wide, broad, unlimited, stretching through limitless 

Such was the startling antithesis, such the cry of 
re-awakened Science, ringing out with glad assurance, 
and deafening the ears of Faith. 

We, who from infancy have been brought up in a 
limitless universe, cannot readily conceive — unless we 
use a vivid imagination* — the upheaval of ideas, the 
dismay produced in the minds of men, by the new 
theories which launched our hitherto stable world, a 
rolling ball, into the void of infinite apace — infinite no- 
thingness, it seemed. Man felt himselKcrushed by this 
Nature, which had always been his servant, created for 
his use, but which had suddenly grown gigantic, over- 
whelming, menacing, while he was reduced to a mere 
pigmy, lost in infinite size. He was terrified ; and as 
the child, who seeing in the dusk of twilight some 
familiar thing grown dim and terrible, runs for protec- 
tion to his mother, hiding his face in her bosom, so man, 
scared by the new vistas opened before him in a world 
that was familiar, rushed madly for protection to the 
arms of his mother, the Church, and hid his eyes in her 

^ Perhaps Memory ? 


Only five years before Bruno’s birth, Copernicus had 
given to the world, from his death-bed, his revolutionary 
book. He had, in fact, revived the science of antiquity 
— the science of the Mysteries, the science slain by 
Aristotle — and, like Pythagoras, he had taught that the 
sun was fixed and that the earth moved. These ideas 
were innate in Bruno, the fruit of a long series of lives 
in which he had known the great Being incarnated as 
Pythagoras, and these innate ideas rushed into articulate 
speech as soon as he studied the ideas of Copernicus. 

The period was, indeed, the beginning of a terrible 
crisis, alike for Religion and for Science, a crisis which 
well-nigh became fatal to both, dragging the one into 
superstition, the other into scepticism. For the new 
ideas seemed to threaten the very life of humanity, to 
menace it with destruction. 

“ How then ! ” came the cry from all sides, “ is 
man, the king of creation, naught but a pigmy, a thing 
of no account, an atom, a mere grain of sand in the 
desert of an infir^e universe ? ” The dignity, the great- 
ness, the moral^tature of the human soul, were destroy- 
ed by these ideas. Everything was tottering, was 
crumbling into mine, round the feet of an amazed and 
horrified Church. It was with a true intuition of the 
change implied in the old-new astronomy, if by atrocious 
methods, that the Church straightway set herself in 
opposition to the altered science. The mere change as 
to the relation between the earth and the sun mattered 
little ; but the change of relation between man and God, 
the sacrifice of Christ for love of man, His victory over 
death and triumphant ascension into heaven — these 
mattered infinitely, for they were the charter which 
secured the immortality of man. 


Bruno, on the other hand, viewed the problem 
which confronted the sixteenth century from quite 
another view-point, the problem of the relations between 
God, the infinite universe, and man. In his turn he 
cried out, but with a triumph and a transport of joy that 
seemed diabolical to the alarmed Church : “ Yes ! yes ! 
the earth with its inhabitants revolves and moves in 
sp^ce ; the worlds are innumerable, the Universe 
illimitable. Life incarnates everywhere in forms. There- 
fore life is universal, and on all sides creates living 
beings. This life, universal, omnipresent, infinite, is 
the Universal Being whom men have called God. On 
all sides inhabited worlds, everywhere living beings ! 
Then Death can only disintegrate bodies ; it cannot 
touch life. Hence the body has no value except as an 
instrument for a life which is deific, a life noble, loving, 
heroic, worthy of being a part of the life universal and 
divine. Fear, falsehood, baseness, these are the real ills 
of life. Dishonour is worse than death, since dishonour 
stains the life, while Death but breaks^he form.” 

Such was the new moral basis, «jorresponding to 
the new thought, that Bruno offered to Christianity 
with a certain naive expectation 6f friendly response : 
The Immanence of God, the Life Universal animating 
all bodies ; the eternity of the Spirit, since by his very 
nature Jae is part of the Life Universal ; based on these 
two n^ral and irrefragable facts, the cult of the True, 
the Good, and the Beautiful, the life heroic, the only 
way in which the specialised life could be made worthy 
of the Life Universal. 

This was the thesis upheld by Giordano Bruno in 
all the countries of Europe visited by him, in all the 
Universities which opened their doors to him, in all 


the centres of thought. It was this view of life which 
fanned his eloquence into flame. Science for him was 
not arid and sterile, a mere set of categories ; it was 
a religion, fruitful and inspired. He loved science, he 
preached science with all his fiery energy and ineffable 
enthusiasm ; he was the apostle of science, its fervid 
defender, and he became its martyr. For to him science 
meant Occultism, the study of the divine Mind in 
Nature, the study of divine Ideas embodied in material 
objects. By studying objects, then, it was possible to 
read the language of Nature, and to learn therein the 
thoughts of God. 

But Christianity utterly refused his message. Had it 
accepted it, the bitter conflict waged from the sixteenth 
to the nineteenth century between religion and science 
would never have broken out. The Church imprisoned 
the Messenger; then burned his body to ashes, and 
f scattered the ashes to the winds, which carried them as 
* seeds of truth over Europe. But the thesis rejected by. 
the sixteenth cea4:ury is being eagerly accepted by the 
twentieth. Th^ message stifled by the smoke of his 
martyrdom is ringing through Europe to-day. His 
voice died in his* throat, but it is now echoing 
around us, for “ to know how to die in one century 
is to live for all centuries to come Vainly did 
the Vatican place his books on the Index. His thoughts 
have winged their way to immortality, a^i^ they 
are spreading over the modern world ; they are 

^Tansillo: To those whom Heaven favours the greatest evils are 
converted into still greater good : since necessities bring forth toil and study, 
and these in most cases [produce] the glory of immortal splendour. 

Cicada : And death in one century brings life in all the others. 

De Heroici Furori, Part I, Dial. ii. 


Three of the works of Giordano Bruno are of special 
interest to-day, those which he himself called “the 
pillars of my system,” “the foundations of the whole 
edifice of our philosophy The two first are purely 
philosophical, and are entitled : Della Causa, Principio 
e Uno, and Del Infinito Universo e Mondi. The third 
contains also much of his philosophy, but is irradiated 
with his lofty and inspiring conception of a truly human 
life ; it is the famous De gli Heroici Fm-ori, and contains 
the application of his philosophy to conduct, and the 
description of his ideal. 

If the earth be not an immovable body in the centre 
of a finite Universe, it follows — according to Bruno’s 
philosophy — that the Universe has neither centre or 
limits ; thus the Infinite is already realised in the visible 
creation, in the immensity of space. Hence, in short, 
the undetermined totality of beings constituted an unlimit- 
ed unity, produced and sustained by the primitive unity of 
life Universal, the Cause of causes. That is to say, this’ 
Unity of life is the basis of humanitj^, and the Imman- 
ence of God is the foundation for the splidarity of man. 

The working out of these ideas is sometimes ob- 
scure in the text of his books, but the underlying origin- 
al concept is ever clear, and it is that of One Existence, 
a Life, a Consciousness unlimited, intelligent, and 
universal. This Existence is everything — everything 
without exception ; in it everything has being, not only 
actualities — a universe that is — but also possibilities — 
all universes that may be. This Existence contains all ; 
all derives from it, all returns to it. Bruno used to say, 
quoting from S. Paul : “ Truly was it said that in Him 
‘ we live and move and have our being Yet was 
he burned as an atheist. 


This One Existence manifests itself in three hy- 
postases, or modes : 

(1) The first is THOUGHT. This Thought is the 
Substance of the Universe. The Act of divine Thought, 
according to Giordano Bruno, is the substance of things, 
the root-base of all particular beings. Herein his 
philosophy recalls the Vedanfic doctrine — which must 
have been in him as the result of his past — that 
the Universe is but the Thought of God, and that all 
things save the One Reality, the Universal Self, are 

(2) & (3) In this Thought, the Substance, are two 
elements : SPIRIT and Matter, which are the second 
and third hypostases of Universal Being. Spirit is the 
positive, or formative, element, which informs and 
moulds all. Matter is the negative, or receptive, ele- 
ment, which becomes all. Again we note the appear- 
ance of Indian thought, this time of the Sankhya — another 
of the six Schools — but with an important difference. 
In Bruno’s philosophy. Spirit and Matter are always 
conjoined, and /the universe consists of these two ele- 
ments ; they are opposites, ever bound together, and 
together form Nature* the shadow of God.' In the San- 
khya, on the contrary. Spirit (Purusha) exists by itself, 
dwelling apart as a witness, as a spectator, and reflecting 
itself in Matter as energy, acting only on Matter as a 
magnet acts on particles of iron : Energy and Matter 
together are the parents of form. Many will recognise 
herein the doctrine of the great German biologist, Ernest 
Haeckel, who, probably all unconsciously, is really a 

^ “ Birth, growth, and the perfection of all which we see is from opposites 
through opposites and in opposites ; and where there is opposition, there there 
is action and reaction, there is motion, variety with its grades and succession.*’ 
{Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante.) Here, again, we are reminded of the Hindu 
‘ pair of opposites 



Jollower of the Saiikhya philosophy, and holds that 
Force and Matter create the Universe. For Bruno, 
however, Spirit is ever present, not as a witness but as 
an agent, for Spirit is the builder of every form ; it is 
the one formative, or creative, agency : 

Be it ever so smaU a thing, it has in it part of the spirit- 
ual substance ; which, finding appropriate conditions, expands 
into a plant or an animal, receiving the members of any kind 
of body which commonly is called living ; for Spirit is found 
in all things, and there is not the minutest particle which does 
not contain such a portion in itself, which is not ensouled.* 

The second element. Matter, is passive. Bruno 
says that we should conceive Matter as one, even as we 
conceive Spirit as one. Let us take, for example, he 
says, the analogy of an art, like that of the wood-worker. 
In all its operations it has as material, as subject, wood. 
This art produces, always in its own material, the most 
varied forms and objects, none of which is proper or 
natural to the wood itself. Thus Spirit, the formative 
principle, of which Art is a reflection, requires for its 
operation certain Matter, or material, since no agent can 
work on nothing, nor produce anything from nothing. 
But the Matter on which Spirit works cannot be perceived 
by the senses, as can that on whicjj Art is employed ; it is 
perceptible only to Reason. The senses only perceive its 
forms, after Spirit has shaped them. All natural forms 
come forth from Matter, and to Matter they return ; 
a grain becomes herb, then corn in the ear, then bread, 
chyle, blood, seed, embryo, man, corpse ; then again, earth, 
stone or some other thing, and so on in endless revolutions. 
There is surely then herein, throughout these recur- 
ring changes, something which transforms itself into 
all these different objects, and yet remains the same. 
Whence it follows that nothing save Matter is constant, 

^ De//a Causa Principio e Uno, Dial. ii. 


or worthy of being called a principle. That which is^ 
that which exists, that which all beings have in common 
is Matter. Matter should therefore be regarded as a be- 
ing, a unit, which produces all bodies."^ 

“ To reach the knowledge of the One is the aim of 
every philosophy.” “Bodies are the true objects of 
knowledge.” We have here two admirable definitions 
of philosophy and of science. Philosophy is the know- 
ledge of Unity by the Reason, apart from the multiplic- 
ity of objects ; Science is the observation of objects by 
means of the senses. Only he who knows the Unity is 
a philosopher. “ Such a one ”, said Plato, “ I esteem 
as a God”. 

The positive element. Spirit, is the soul in all 
separate beings, the soul of each object. This is another 
important concept in Bruno’s philosophy. The Uni- 
versal Spirit individualises as the soul in each body ; 
hence, he says, the soul is the cause of the harmony of 
bodies, not their resultant. In this lies the essential 
difference between a spiritual and a materialistic philo- 

Materialism holds that the molecular arrangement 
of matter is the cafise of life and intelligence, that life 
and thought depend on such arrangements. A spiritual 
philosophy maintains that life is the formative principle, 
and that its efforts to express and manifest itself deter- 
mine the various aggregations of molecules, building 
thus the bodily organs intended to subserve the functions 
of life. In the first, it is Matter which produces all ; 
in the second. Life dominates Matter, and shapes it for 
its own use. 

^ This is a summary of Bruno’s teaching as to Matter. The student may 
compare Della Causa Principio e Uno^ Dial. iii. 


For Giordano Bruno the two elements are eternal 
—Matter which produces a succession of bodies, Spirit 
which individualises itself as soul. The soul thereafter 
develops itself through successive incarnations in bodies 
which ever become more complex and more perfect. 
The perfectioning of the soul is the goal of all progress, 
since the life of the soul is the life of man. Sin is the 
negation, the absence, of good. 

As for death, it is absolutely negligible, for the body 
is continually changing, and every change is a little 

There is no death for us, nor for any substance ; nothing 
substantially diminishes, but everything, travelling through 
infinite space, changes in appearance. And because all of us 
are subject to the best efficient law, we must not believe, hold 
and hope aught else, than that as all proceeds from good, so 
everything is good, works towards good, and ends in good.' 

In order to demonstrate that his philosophy must 
induce morality, and that morality is its sure basis, 
Giordano Bruno explains the constitution of man. Man 
is made up of three principles which reflect the three 
hypostases, or modes of manifestation, of God in the 
universe. Man thinks : hence he participates in the 
divine Substance, which is Thought — as we have seen ; 
this is the highest part of man, the germ of Divinity 
existing in him. Man feels : that is, he wills ; hence he 
reflects the divine Will, or Spirit, the formative element ; 
this individualises itself as soul, which is in man the 
positive element, individualised from Spirit the univer- 
sal positive element ; this soul, by means of its higher 
powers, may unite itself to Thought, or Intelligence, 
while, by means of its lower powers, it may unite itself 
to the body, its creature. The student must not here 

^De/ Infinito Universo e Mondi. Prcemia Epistolare. 


allow himself to be confused by the nomenclature ; that 
which Bruno calls Thought is what we call in these 
days Spirit ; he does not use the term Spirit as an ele- 
ment in man ; that which is Universal Life, outside 
Man, he calls Spirit, and this becomes soul when 
particularised in man. His trinity is not therefore Spirit, 
Soul, and Body, but Thought, Soul and Body. He says 
the Soul must aspire upwards to Thought, where we 
should say that the soul must aspire upwards to the 
Spirit. The idea is identical; only the names are 

The body is man’s instrument for action. Man acts ; 
that is to say, he manifests the positive principle of 
energy, making use of the negative principle. Matter. 
The body must, therefore be considered as man’s third 

But we must be careful to assign to the body its 
proper place : 

The soul is not in the body in any local sense, but only 
as intrinsic form, and as extrinsic formative agent, as that 
which makes the limbs, and shapes the mass from within and 
from without. The body, therefore, is in the soul, the soul is 
in Thought, and Thought is either God, or is in God, as Plotinus 


Thus, according to Bruno, man’s true and primitive 
form is divinity ; if he has the consciousness of his own 
divinity, if he realises it, he may regain his primitive 
form, and raise himself to the highest heaven. Through 
knowledge of his own essential nature, man can regain 
the form divine. 

The Church was ever saying to man : “ Thou art 
wicked and corrupt, conceived and born in sin ; lying 
under the wrath of God, thou canst only be saved by 

^ De gli Heroici Furori, Part I, Dial. iii. 


divine grace.” Bruno said to man ; “ Thou art divine, 

and essentially pure and good ; realise thine own nature, 
and set thyself to rise until thou canst manifest that God 
who is ever in thy heart.” 

But how should man rise? By the will, which 
must be fixed to reach upwards to Thought, and must be 
ruler and lord. He likened, in one striking passage, the 
man to a ship, the captain of which was the human 
will, and the reason its rudder. 

The captain, he says : 

With the sound of the trumpet, that is, with his deter- 
mined choice, summons all the warriors- that is to say, evokes 
all the powers (which are named warriors because they are in 
constant strife and contrast), or their effects (which are con- 
tending thoughts, some of which incline this way and some 
that) ; and he tries to bring them all together under the banner 
of a predetermined end. And should it happen that some of 
them be called in vain to quickly show themselves obsequious 
(especially those which proceed from natural powers, which 
obey the reason either slightly or not at all), at least through 
his effort to prevent their actions and his condemnation of 
those that cannot be prevented, it is shown how he kills the 
former and banishes the latter, proceeding against those with 
the sword of wrath, and against these with the whip of 

But something is needed to stimulate the will to 
this effort to lead the heroic, instead of the sensuous 
life. What is that something? It is the love of the 
Beautiful and the True. 

The heroic enthusiast, uplifting himself by the species 
of divine beauty and goodness he has conceived, on the wings 
of the intellect and of the intellectual will, exalts himself to 
divinity, abandoning the form of inferior being.' 

The soul which loves the objects of sense binds 
itself by means of this love to the body ; but the soul 
which loves Beauty, Goodness, Truth, unites itself 
thereby to its inner God. The doctrine of Bruno 

^ Dc Hcroici Furori, Part I, Dial. i. 

^ De Heroici Furor i. Part I, Dial iii 



contains no threats ; he seeks to allure, to attract, not to 
alarm. To him Divinity is so supremely desirable, thal 
it seems to him that God need only be seen to be loved. 
His ardent, passionate soul rushes upwards, spurning 
the delights of the lower world. For him no hell exists 
save the hell of the soul’s degradation. 

For the soul, he says, is able to degrade itself, even 
as it is able to rise. From the longings of the soul we 
j may discover whether it is rising to the Divine, or 
j descending to the brute. Poised between the Angel 
i and the animal, with a hand laid on each, the soul must 
1 choose its mate ; Love gravitates towards earth, when 
j it is attracted by sensual pleasures ,• it soars aloft, when 
I it pursues noble aspirations. Listen to his words : 

Because the mind aspires to divine splendour, he shuns 
the gathering of the common herd ; he withdraws from 
common opinion .... If he aspires to the lofty splendour, he 
draws himself in as much as he can towards unity, he contracts 
himself as far as possible into himself, so as not to be similar 
to the many, because they are many ; and not to be hostile to 
the many, because they are dissimilar, if it be possible to keep 
both the one and the other good thing ; otherwise, let him hold 
on to that which seems to him the better .... The mind, there- 
fore, that aspires high, in the first place ceases to care for the 
multitude, realising that that light reckons toil of no account, 
and is only to be foupd there where intelligence is ; and not 
even where there is any kind of intelligence, but where alone 
there is that which among those few principal and pre-eminent 

intelligences, is first, chief and unique [It is needful] to 

withdraw to the innermost part of oneself, considering that God 
is near, with oneself and within oneself, nearer than one can be 
to oneself, as that which is the Soul of souls, the Life of lives, 
the Essence of essences ; considering also that what you see, 
high or low or around you (as you choose to express it), of the 
stars, are bodies, are works similar to this globe in which we 
are, and in them is neither more nor less divinity present than 
there is in this globe of ours or in ourselves.' 

Such is Bruno’s word to man : By means of love 
fixed in contemplation on Divine Beauty and Goodness 

^ De Heroici Furori, Part 11, Dial. i. 


the soul is set aflame, and man becomes heroic, leading 
the only life which is worthy of such a fervid lover. 
The taste for lower objects is lost in the contemplation 
of the real and the lasting Beauty. This fervid lover of 
the Beautiful, the True and the Good shall so live, being 
present in the body, that with the better part of himself 
he is absent from it ; he shall conjoin and bind himself 
as through an indissoluble sacrament to divine things, 
in such wise that he feels neither love nor hatred for 
mortal things, considering that he is above being servant 
and slave of his body ; which he must not otherwise re- 
gard than as the prison which restricts his freedom ; the 
lime which glues his wings; the chain which fetters his 
hands ; the stocks which hold fast his feet ; the veil 
which confuses his sight. But he withal shall not be 
serf, captive, ensnared, chained, idle, stockstill and blind ; 
for his body can no longer tyrannise over him than he 
himself shall suffer it ; seeing that the Spirit is placed 
over the body, just as the corporeal world and matter are 
subject to Divinity and to Nature. So shall he become 
strong against fortune, magnanimous against contumely, 
intrepid against want, sickness and persecutions.^ 

This, then, is the Heroic »Life, as depicted by 
Giordano Bruno: and in the face of the fire which 
consumed his living body, will any dare to say that he 
did not, at least, strive to live it ? 

An objection arises. All cannot be heroic. What 
of those who cannot rise to heights so splendid? 
Is there no word of cheer for them? Oh yes! for the 
laurel-crown of heroism is not for the brows of only the 
successful and the strong ; he also is heroic who aspires, 
even though, aspiring, he fails. 

^ De pji Heroici Fiirori, Part II, Dial. i. 


Enough that all should run ; enough that each should do 
that which is possible for him ; since the heroic mind is content, 
rather to fall or to fail worthily and in a high cause wherein 
the dignity of his Spirit is shown forth, than to achieve perfec- 
tion in things less noble, or even base.* 

I Thus taught Giordano Bruno. 

The message that here, to-night, I have sought to 
expound, is a message not only to individuals, but to 
nations, for there are souls of nations, as well as souls 
of individuals. For the nation, as for the individual, 
thought is the instrument of progress ; for both equally 
the effort to realise a noble and lofty Ideal transforms 
the life into the Great and the Heroic. But nations, 
like individuals, must choose between the brute and 
the God. The choice is ours. None, save ourselves, 
can compel. We can either wallow in the mire, degrad- 
ing and abasing ourselves to the level of the brute, or 
we can, step by step, ascend to those sublime heights 
where is manifest the Eternal Ideal. 

In our own hands is our fate, and that fate depends on 
our mastery of the body, or on our enslavement thereby. 
This body of ours is a magnificent instrument, but 
it must be an instrument and not a tyrant, usurping 
authority over its pfoper lord. Be then, as you will, 
either masters or slaves. Choose for yourselves, and 
also for your nation. France is idealistic at the core, 
the standard-bearer of ideas she was, marching in the 
van of Europe. For many a long year she has forgotten 
her birthright ; she has been groping in cellars and in 
underground dens ; she has been rolling in mire and in 
dung-heaps, declaring that these were the fit subjects 
of Art. Now she is awakening fpom the nightmare 
that has oppressed her, and is again beginning to 

^ De Heroici Furori^ Part I, Dial. iii. 


understand, as of old, that beauty, not ugliness is divine ; 
that purity, not vice, is alluring. True Art sees ever the 
Beautiful, and for the man and the nation alike progress 
lies in the sunlight and not in the gloom of the vault. 
Upward lies the road that climbs to the God ; down- 
wards the road that slopes to the brute. Choose, for 
before you lie open the roads, and the fate of the future 
depends on the choice. 


A boy was lying on a vine-clad hill, looking dreamily 
aver the blue Mediterranean sea. As he lay there he 
could see the beautiful Bay of Naples, curving inwards 
to the fair city ; and behind him rose, stern and forbid- 
ding, the mountain of Vesuvius, sending its dark smoke 
up into the stainless purity of the sky. One of the 
loveliest scenes that Italy, or that perhaps even the world, 
could offer was spread before his eyes ; but the boy, 
readily sensitive as he generally was to all beauty of 
form and colour, to-day seemed indifferent to it all, and 
the large eyes, ‘ full of speculation,’ were blind to the 
landscape he knew and loved so well. 

For the lad was on the verge of a grave decision ; 
should he or should he not bid farewell to the brightness 
of his youth, and shut himself up within the grey walls 
of a Dominican monastery, to devote himself there to 
study and to the search after truth ? Monk or soldier, 
it seemed, he must be. The times were rough and 
violent, and there was no chance for peaceful study save 
under the garb of the monk. Besides, Nature herself 
seemed as uneasy and troubled as the States of Italy. 
In the quaint words of an old chronicler, there were 
“ earthquakes, inundations, eruptions, famine, and 
pestilence ; in that troublous time creation itself seemed 

^ This story was one of a series written by me when I was a sceptic. 
Giordano Bruno fascinated me much in the past. — A. B. 


to violate its own laws” . And the boy was fanciful and 
superstitious, and he thought that perhaps the monastery 
would be the spot most approved of by his God amid 
such troubles. But most of all, learning seemed to 
beckon him ; for within the monastery were books, and 
ancient manuscripts, and wonderful parchment rolls 
that he could not yet decipher but which Father Anselm 
had promised him that he should understand, if he 
donned the garb of the monk and took on him the vows 
of Dominic. His pulse beat more quickly and the colour 
glowed on his dark cheeks as he thought of all he might 
learn and the knowledge he might master, as with some 
the pulse would beat in dreaming of gay frolic, and the 
colour glow with the thought of some bright scene of festi- 
vity or of love. And when Giordano Bruno rose from the 
hill-side his mind was made up, and he had resolved to 
enter the Dominican monastery, for there he fancied 
that learning should be his comrade, and truth itself 
should lift her veil before his eager reverent eyes. 

“ You have been long, Giordano, and it grows late,” 
said his mother tenderly, as the lad entered his lowly 
home in the little town of Nola. “ And your uncle has 
been awaiting you, and has gone away sore vexed. 
For he says that now you are a strong lad and a tall one, 
it is time that you should throw away the books you 
are ever poring over, and should learn to carry arms, as 
befits a gallant lad.” 

“ Mother,” the boy answered gently, “ I shall never 
carry arms, nor go out to rob and kill my fellows at the 
order of some idle noble. I have resolved to go to the 
Dominican monastery, where I have long been for study 
under Father Anselm, and the good monk has promised 
that he will teach and train me, if I will promise after 


a while to take the vows of the order, and become one 
of the brethren there. And, truly, to me it is a nobler 
life to study and learn what wise men have written, 
than to put on casque and hauberk and go slay poor 
simple folk who have done no wrong to any.” 

“ But your uncle, my son, your uncle,” urged the 
mother, anxiously. She had long known that her son 
cared for study rather than for the street, and was 
therefore in no wise surprised at his words; but she 
feared lest his uncle should be wrath, and deal harshly 
with her fatherless boy. 

“ My uncle may fight as he will,” laughed the 
boy merrily “ and scold as he will, too, so you be not 
angry or grieved, sweet mother mine.” And he twined 
his arms lovingly round his mother’s shoulder, and 
kissed away her tremors and her anxieties, till she sat 
down happily to supper, content in her heart of hearts 
that her darling should escape from the turmoil of that 
dangerous time, and should grow into a revered monk 
like Father Anselm, or one of the grave brethren of the 
famous monastery to which he belonged. But no such 
monk as one of those, poor anxious mother, shall be that 
gallant-hearted, passionate, eager lad of yours. Oh, 
could you have read his fortune on that summer even- 
ing, I doubt whether you would not have chosen for 
him the rough toils and perils of the soldier’s life rather 
than that seemingly peaceful one which opened as the 
monastery gate rolled back to let in the future monk, and 
which ended on the Field of Flowers in Rome, long 
ere the full life had begun to sink into old age. But 
that future was hidden from her loving eyes, and 
she bade farewell to her boy, sadly indeed, but yet 
resignedly, as he set forth to his new home, and plunged 



into the new studies with all the eagerness of his 
fiery youth, with all the passion of his warm Italian 

And there for some years he studied, and when the 
due time arrived he took the vows of the Dominican 
Order, and clad himself in the monk’s frock. But 
Father Anselm, who loved him, and who marvelled at 
his keen wit and his strong, subtle thought, would often- 
times shake his head gravely and sigh : “ I fear me that 
that keen head will not rest easy under the cowl, and 
that that strong brain will bring its owner into trouble.” 
And he would try to check the young man’s eager 
questioning, and to dull his ardour after study, for he 
thought that there was peril in the future, in those days 
of growing heresy, for a youth who would never accept 
an answer to a question if the answer would not bear 
investigation, and who must ever be probing the old 
truths and the old beliefs, and refusing to accept as 
certain all that holy Church taught and all the traditions 
of Rome. 

“ My son, my son,” the gentle old monk would say, 
“ you seek to know too much. There is danger in your 
endless questionings and in your deSire to be wise above 
that which is written. Read your breviary, and chant 
your offices, and leave Copernicus and his dreams alone. 
Does not Holy Writ declare that God ‘ has fixed the 
round earth so fast that it cannot be moved,’ and did not 
Joshua call on the sun to stand still — a command which 
would have been absurd had the sun been stationary, 
as Copernicus suggests ? The book tells us distinctly 
that ‘ the sun stood still,’ and it must, therefore, have 
been moving before. Giordano, Giordano, my son, 
your questionings will lead into heresy, if you be 


not careful, and the Holy Inquisition has arguments 
that I would be loth to see applied to my favourite 

Then Bruno would kiss the old man’s hand, [and say 
some light word to comfort him ; but alone he would 
pace up and down his narrow cell, struggling, thinking, 
wondering, praying for a light that never came in 
answer to his prayer, and longing to be free of the 
narrow round of monastic duties, and to share in the 
intellectual struggles, the sound of which he heard afar, 
the struggle raging in every University of Europe be- 
tween the old order and the new, between the philosophy 
of the past and the thought of the present. The young 
lion found his cage too narrow for him, and the confine- 
ment began to gall. 

In that monastery library Bruno found a danger 
that had been missed by the careless monks around 
him ; he tells us that “ after having cultivated literature 
and poetry for a long time, my guides themselves, my 
superiors and my judges, led me to philosophy and free 
enquiry ”. But what place had philosophy and free 
enquiry within the walls of an Italian monastery, and 
what greater danger oould befall a man than to find such 
things as these ? At that time Aristotle was supreme in 
the Christian church, and Bruno, preferring the philo- 
sophy of Pythagoras and of Plato, soon found himself in 
conflict with his teachers. Pythagoras had taught that 
the sun was the centre of our system, and that the earth 
was but a planet revolving round it, and, Pythagorean 
student as he was, Giordano naturally followed the 
teaching of Copernicus on the same subject, despite all 
that Father Anselm could urge. And, indeed, Giordano 
had latterly shunned the kind old monk, being unwilling 


to give him needless pain, and yet more unwilling to 
seem to be less true. 

For some weeks past Father Anselm had noticed 
that evil glances were being thrown on his favourite 
pupil, and he had caught one or two muttered phrases 
that alarmed him for his safety. A witty pasquinade, 
entitled ‘ Noah’s Ark,’ had been written by the young 
monk, and had given sore offence in the monastery, for 
in it he, under a thin veil of allegory, mocked at the 
luxury and ignorance of the monkish orders, and the 
lash of his sarcasm had curled round and stung some of 
the brethren in his own monastery, and bitter complaint 
had been made to the Prior that this young critic of 
monkish ways needed a lesson to teach him to keep 
that gibing tongue of his from slandering his elders and 
superiors. At last the word ‘ heretic ’ began to be ban- 
died about freely from mouth to mouth, and whispers 
circulated that the Prior would soon take measures to 
teach the malapert monk to mend the error of his ways. 
And one afternoon, as Bruno lay idly in the vineyard 
adjoining the garden of the monastery, he saw Father 
Anselm approaching with hurried steps and troubled 
countenance, and rising, he went to meet him and asked 
him gently what was amiss. The old man sank down 
on the sunny slope, well-nigh breathless with his haste 
and the grief that oppressed him, and Bruno waited 
patiently till he had recovered power of speech, and 
Anselm said : 

“ Giordano, my son, danger is around you. Your 
foolish talk about the earth moving, and of the inhabi- 
tants of other worlds than this, which you insanely pre- 
tend are among the stars above our heads, has reached 
the Prior’s ears. Father Jerome, who thought you 


aimed at him in that biting jest of yours on the swine 
saved by Noah in the ark, has whispered in the Prier^s 
ear that you are a heretic, dangerous to the good name 
of the monastery in the country round, and the Prior, 
who is, as you know, a good man, but withal somewhat 
narrow-minded in his faith — and truly he is blessed 
therein, in that it saves him from many anxious question- 
ings of the doctrines of Holy Church — has taken alarm, 
and is minded to question you before the brethren touch- 
ing your rejection of Aristotle, and your belief in these 
new-fangled theories of Copernicus. I fear me lest — ” 

“ Fear nothing,” said the young monk, proudly, 
springing to his feet, and tossing back his head with a 
gesture of bright self-confidence that beseemed him well ; 
“ Fear not for me, father, for I fear not for myself.” 

“ And therefore do I fear, my son,” answered sadly 
the elder monk. “ Satan triumphs most easily over 
those that have not the ‘ spirit of holy fear ’. Your 
speculations are too bold, and you cannot have weighed 
well all that is implied in the idea of this firm world of 
ours revolving in space. Where do you believe hell is, 
and where the souls of the lost, and the devils chained 
in darkness, in this new universe of yours that has 
neither top nor bottom ? ” 

“ Truly,” said Bruno, laughing softly, “ I have not 
troubled my brain much with such Satanic geography, 
and there can indeed be no ‘ under the earth,’ now that 
we know that it is ever turning in its journey round the 

“ Hush, hush, my son ! ” the old man said hastily, 
crossing himself as he spoke. “ Beware lest Satan him- 
self come to show you the way to the prison beneath 
the earth, whence none goeth forth. But bethink you : 


whither went the blessed Lord when he ascended, going 
upwards, as we read, from the surface of this earth, and 
being received into heaven. How could he ascend from 
a whirling globe and in what direction went he when 
he was, as Holy Writ tells us, taken up.^ Tush, tush, my 
son, your fancies are blasphemous absurdities, and were 
they true the cardinal doctrines of our holy faith would 
become impossible, which may the blessed Virgin and 
the saints forefend.” And again he crossed himself 
piously as he spoke. 

A strange and subtle smile flitted over Bruno’s 
mouth at the last sentence of the simple father, and he 
opened his lips to answer. But ere a word was uttered 
he checked himself, thinking ; “ Of what avail to shake 
the old man’s faith.” So he spoke no word, but looked 
across the sea, his deep eyes full of search and longing, 
and of unsatisfied yearning after certainty of truth. 

“ Giordano ! ” again said the old monk, “ listen to 
me. You are young and brave, but your youth and your 
courage will not avail you in to-morrow’s strife. I shall 
have to do heavy penance for my warning, but warn 
you of your peril I will, at whatever risk. They are 
plotting to catch you in your answers, that they may 
stamp you hefretic ; and I know — ” the trembling voice 
sank into a whisper — “ I know that a messenger has 
gone to the Holy Office at Naples, and the inquisitor 
will be here to-morrow t& — ” 

The bright listening face blanched for a moment, 
but then the mobile lips grew firm and set, and Bruno 
laid his hand gently on his friend’s arm. 

“ What would you have me do, my father ? You 
would not have me lie, even to escape the terrors of the 
Holy Office?” 


“ Fly ! fly ! ” the old man whispered. “ Fly while 
there is yet time. Oh ! my son ! I would not see your 
young limbs broken on the rack, your young face writhen 
with pain ! Oh ! I have seen — I have seen — ” The good 
monk’s voice failed him, and he broke down in strong 
emotion ; and then, hearing steps coming in the direc- 
tion of the vineyard, he rose and went hastily. n\23. 

For an hour Giordano Bruno sat where his friend 
had left him, still seemingly gazing idly across the sea. 
But his heart was full of warring, surging thoughts, as 
he strove to judge his danger, and the best way of swift 
escape. Presently the light came back to his eyes, the 
smile to his lips, and he leapt to his feet. “ Good 
fathers all,” he said merrily, “ I leave Noah’s Ark to- 
night ; for I fear it is no longer an ark of safety for me.” 

So that night, when all were sleeping round him, 
Giordano Bruno rose silently from his pallet, and after 
listening a few minutes to see that none were stirring 
save himself, he unwound a rope which he had coiled 
round his waist beneath his monkish frock, and knotting 
one end tightly to the bar of his window, he slipped out 
through the narrow opening and slid swiftly to the 
ground, and struck off across the country northwards, 
his heart bounding with new liberty, and his young 
limhs rejoicing in the strain of his rapid flight. And it 
was well he fled ; for the messenger to the Holy Office 
returned with tidings that ere day dawned the familiars 
would be at the monastery, and that they would seize 
the young rebel and take him to Naples instantly, and 
that the questionings should be done at the hall of the 
Holy Office itself. But when they came, those terrible 
bloodhounds of the Inquisition, they found an empty 
cell, whence the victim had escaped ; and they were fain 


to be content with excommunicating him— delivering 
him over, body and soul, to the devil ; while he, rejoic- 
ing in his strength, set his face northwards towards the 

Forward and northwards ever went the fugitive 
monk, generally on foot but now and then getting a lift 
from a friendly traveller, wending his way in the same 
direction. When he approached a town, being afraid 
of being questioned, he usually hid till the evening fell, 
and then during the darkness slipped past unnoticed, as 
though he had committed some crime and were fleeing 
from the hands of justice. For it is one of the evils 
of superstition that, in countries where it is powerful, 
it treats honest men as criminals and criminals as hon- 
est men, provided only that the criminals are devout, 
and obey the clergy, and frequent the Church. Until 
Christianity became softened and liberalised by Free- 
thought, it was safer in every country of Christendom 
to be a murderer or thief than to be a heretic. For the 
murderer and the thief could buy forgiveness and safety 
by gold and by prayer, whereas the heretic found the 
rack and the stake the penalty for pure life and honest 
speech. • 

At last Giordano saw the white tops of the moun- 
tains which divide Italy from the fair Swiss land, and 
knowing that Switzerland had to a great extent thrown 
off allegiance to Papal Rome, and that the Protestant 
Reformers there dwelt in safety and in honour, he 
dreamed that when he crossed that mountain barrier he 
would be free to breathe in safety, far from the grim 
clutch of the Inquisition. Ah, Bruno ! you have to learn 
that hatred of science and persecuting zeal are not the 
marks of one Christian sect more than of another, but 


are of the very essence of the Christian faith itself ! As 
well seek for a blind man who can see, as for a Christian 
who can respect the freedom of thought of a heretic. 

Up the steep sides of Mont St Bernard he climbed, 
and he reached the top as soon as the sun began to sink ; 
he stood and looked across the plain of Italy, billowing 
far beneath his feet, and as he looked the Italian heart 
in him melted, and he sank on his knees and stretched 
out his arms towards the wide landscape, glowing in the 
radiance of the setting sun : 

“ Italy ! Italy ! ” he cried aloud, and the hot tears 
rolled down the brave young face, writhen now with 
pain ; “ Italy ! Italy ! my beautiful, my beloved ! chained 
as Prometheus on the mountain peak, thou who hast 
brought to men that living fire, stolen from the burning 
heart of Nature, the divine, the self-sufficing, the mother 
of all ; as Prometheus torn by vulture beak, torn by Pope 
and priest, yet as Prometheus undying, and looking for 
the redemption that shall be ! Italy ! I fly from the devils 
incarnate,made by Christianity out of men ; shall I ever 
come back to thee, to live and die in thee ? Hast thou 
for me a home and a refuge ; or, my Italy, hast thou 
only a grave ? ” * 

0 Giordano Bruno ! noble son of Italia degraded ; 
thy Italy has for thee no home or refuge ; thy Italy has 
for thee not even a grave. Italian winds shall scatter 
thy ashes far and wide over Italian soil, and those ashes 
shall be the seeds that, after two centuries, shall bloom 
into flowers of memory and gratitude for thee ! 

His last farewell to Italy spoken, Bruno turned his 
back resolutely on the land which the Inquisition was 
searing, and slowly paced along the path which led to 
the hospice of St. Bernard. As he turned the corner 


which shut out Italy, he came in sight of the long low 
building, sheltered from the wild winds and nestling 
beneath a guardian crag. No possibility was there that 
he should pass unseen that hospitable door, for already 
the dogs had scented his approach, and the deep bay of 
twenty noble animals welcomed the wanderer to the 
refuge of all travellers to the pass. But Bruno dared 
not enter a dwelling where his tonsure would tell of the 
profession he had rejected, and where he would find it 
hard to parry the curious questions of his hosts, so when 
he reached the hospice door, he prayed but for a crust 
of bread and a drink of thin red wine, and, urging that 
his business forced him to hasten onwards, despite the 
growing darkness, he started again on his way, down 
the path that led to the valley far below. Four or five 
of the dogs escorted him on his road, until he reached 
the limit of the snow, and then with a deep bay of 
farewell, they turned homewards again, leaving him to 
pursue, with lightened heart — since now indeed he was 
in Switzerland- — his steep and slippery way. Down- 
wards and downwards, ever, till he reached the refuge 
of St. Pierre, and there, wearied out, he craved a night’s 
lodging, and slept his first really fearless sleep since 
he had quitted his monastery cell. 

Far into the next day he slept, and at length awoke 
refreshed and vigorous, and started once more, still 
downwards, though the path was now less steep and 
rugged than it had ever been before. And thus on till 
the vale was reached, and on till he passed by the Tete 
Noire to Chamounix, and saw the mighty, stainless head 
of Mont Blanc rise pure and dazzling against the clear 
blue sky. And onwards still, through a land now less 
stern and grand, but not less beautiful, until the broad 



waters of Lake Leman smiled at the weary traveller, and 
until at length he reached the fair city stretched beside 
the Lake, and the walls of Geneva rose before him, the 
refuge to which his thoughts had pointed since he 
swung himself downwards from the window of his cell. 

Fearlessly, with head erect, he passed into the 
famous city, the city of Calvin and of Beza. Calvin in- 
deed was dead — he had died in 1564, and it was now 
1580 — ^but Calvin’s spirit still dominated the city in 
which he had ruled supreme. At first Bruno found wel- 
come from the Genevan Reformers, for they regarded him 
only as rebel to Rome, and dreamed not that the soaring 
spirit of this young man, now but thirty years of age, 
had broken not the fetters of Rome, but the fetters of 
Christianity, and that Calvin’s narrow theology could no 
more hold him captive than could the statelier creed of 
Rome. For a while, however, brief rest was his, until 
that warrior spirit of his, ever longing for battle with 
its peers, flung itself into hot controversy over the old 
quarrel with the philosophy of Aristotle. Just as Aris- 
totle had become the pillar of orthodoxy in the Catholic 
church, so did Aristotle also rule unchallenged in 
Geneva. In fact, tlfe Genevan citizens had actually 
passed a decree “ for once and for ever, that neither in 
logic nor in any other branch of learning, shall any one 
among them go astray from the opinions of Aristotle ”. 

Such iron mould of thought did in no wise suit 
Bruno’s enquiring and ever-progressing genius and he 
soon found that, as before in the monastery, evil looks 
were cast on him, and hard words were his lot. To his 
surprise at first, and then to his bitter indignation, he 
found that the Protestants of Geneva claimed the right 
to dissent from Rome, and the right to persecute those 


who dissented from themselves, and at last, being told 
that the rulers of the city had begun to recall the fate of 
Servetus, burned in that very city by Calvin, but some 
twenty-seven years before, Bruno deemed that he would 
do wisely to take to flight once more, lest the prison he 
had fled from in Italy should reappear to incarcerate 
him in Switzerland. 

For the second time Giordano was a fugitive. For 
the second time as night spread her precious darkness 
over the earth, Giordano stood beside an open window, 
watching for chance of escape. A friend had given him 
shelter whose house was on one of the city walls ; and 
this night, when all was still, and the far-off tramp of 
the sentinel seemed only to mark the silence of the dusk, 
Giordano Bruno slipped down a rope from the window 
and safely reached the ground, and waving silent fare- 
well to the faithful friend above, he turned his footsteps 
towards France, outcast and fugitive once more, and 
slowly made his way to Lyons. 

Of the stay of Giordano Bruno in Lyons we know 
nothing. At that time Lyons was a centre of printing, 
and from the presses of Lyons poured out books which 
were spread over Europe, carrying light. Did Bruno 
long to see with his own eyes those printing presses 
which then seemed so wonderful? We cannot say. 
But we know that his stay in Lyons was very brief, and 
that he passed on to Toulouse. But in Toulouse was no 
safe resting-place for Bruno. Toulouse boasted itself 
the bulwark of the faith against the reforming tide, and 
soon threats resounded from every side against the 
heretic visitor, who, coming from the city of Calvin, 
was worse heretic than Calvin himself. Thirty-six 
years later a fellow-countryman of Bruno, Vanini the 


Neapolitan, was burned for heresy in that same city of 
Toulouse, and Bruno was wise in quitting it and seeking 
rest in more liberal Paris. An exciting journey was 
that of our young Italian through France — “ a long and 
vast tumult,” he himself styled it. Papist and Huguenot 
were fighting against each other with equal religious 
ferocity, equal religious fanaticism. “ The Papists razed 
the Churches of the Huguenots ; the Huguenots pillaged 
the sacristies of the Papists ; blood flowed in town and 
country; fanaticism stifled family affection and civic 
friendship; the priests excommunicated with ringing 
bell and extinguished torch ; the parsons anathematised 
Pharisaism and idolatry.” Through this Babel of waver- 
ing creeds the heretic went on his way, noting how 
religion desolated a Christian land, and how Catholic and 
Protestant alike robbed and murdered to the glory of 
their Gods. 

In 1582, Bruno saw stretching before him the long- 
dreamed-of city of Paris — Paris where he hoped to find 
an asylum, perhaps a welcome. There the Sorbonne 
stood as the type of unyielding bigotry, of protest against 
all new thought; face to face with it was the Royal 
College of France, welcoming the scientific spirit, wel- 
coming the new light. Here, indeed, was a fair field for 
the knight-errant of Free-thought, and here he put lance 
in rest to charge gallantly down on his old foe Aristotle, 
the idol of the Sorbonne. He asked permission to teach 
philosophy in public, and this being granted, the young 
Italian was surrounded soon by crowds of adoring 
pupils, attracted by “ his ready wit and the Neapolitan 
warmth of his oratory ”. Here was a teacher who made 
the driest study attractive, the hardest subject easy. The 
King, Henry III, bade the young scholar attend his court ; 


for the monk’s cell he had the splendour of the palace ; 
for weary cloistered hours the joy of intellectual combat, 
of vivid Parisian life. 

“ Giordano,” said Henry brightly to him one day, 
entering his favourite’s room ; “ Giordano, mon ami, I 
have good news for you. In the University a chair of 
Philosophy is vacant, and they tell me none can fill it 
better than a certain eloquent Italian, one Bruno, who 
has taken the town by storm.” 

Bruno, who had risen to his feet as the king entered, 
flushed over brow and check. “ A chair, Sire ! ” he 
faltered. “ A chair for me in the University of Paris ! 
I have dreamed of this at some future day, but I am yet 
too young, too unknown — ” 

“ Tut, tut ! ” interrupted the King. “ Who better 
than you can draw the youth of Paris, or better control 
the same turbulent youth ? No easy task it has been 
found, I warrant you. No hesitation, Giordano mio ; I 
will that a countryman of my mother shall fill a chair 
that he can fill so worthily.” 

“Sire, I can but accept,” answered Bruno, grate- 
fully. “ I shall indeed have found rest and peace here, 
after my long wanderings. And i^rhen will my duties 
commence, my royal and generous friend ? ” 

“ Commence ? Oh, at once,” replied the King. 
“ There are a few necessary formalities to be gone 
through, the signing of the papers and so on. And, by 
the way, Giordano, you are careless of your religious 
duties. I do not remember me to have seen you at 
mass. Do not forget, my dear professor, that attendance 
at mass is one of the duties of your position.” 

Bruno started, and his bright eager face clouded, 
and became dark and set as flint. 


“ Did I understand your Majesty rightly ? ” he said 
gravely ; “ as a professor I must attend mass ? ” 

“ Yes, surely,” quoth the king, unnoticing the 
change of his companion’s tone and face. “ You would 
not have the professor set an example of irreligion to 
the University ? Oh, it is not a long business, I assure 
you. You need not grudge such short loss of time, you 
busiest of men.” 

Bruno turned and walked to the window, a sore 
conflict raging in his heart. The professorship gave 
him an assured position, an adequate income. After all, 
what was a mass ? A number of foolish words, of sense- 
less phrases. He need only pretend belief in it all, and 
he would be safe, and might pursue his philosophical 
studies in peace. If he refused, not only would he lose 
the professorship, but the fickle and bigoted king might 
turn against him, and he might be driven from Paris, 
as from Italy and Switzerland, from Lyons and Toulouse. 
Only a mass ? “ Only a lie,” muttered Bruno to himself 
between his teeth, and then his brow cleared and his 
eyes shone out again bright and true ; he turned back to 
the king, who was gazing at him with surprise : 

“ Sire,” he sai(J gently, “ you are goodness itself to 
an Italian exile ; be not angry that I cannot accept the 
condition annexed to the gift you honour me with.” 

“ The condition ? ” questioned the king. “ What 
condition ? ” 

“ Sire, the attendance at mass.” 

“ That is folly, Bruno. I have told you the service 
is brief, and however indifferent you may be to religious 
duties, no good Catholic should object to attending mass.” 

“ But, Sire,” answered the young man in tones low 
and grave, “ I am not a Catholic, and I cannot in honesty 


attend mass. “ Stay,” he said pleadingly, as the king 
started back in horror. “ I have not wilfully deceived 
you ; my lectures have been on philosophy and not on 
theology, and no question of my personal faith has arisen. 
Long ago, I began to doubt ; I became a monk in 1572, 
but study made my faith waver — ” 

He stopped, for his pleading was unheard. Henry 
was pacing up and down the room, his face black as 
night. At last he stopped and faced the young Italian. 

“ Do I understand you rightly ? ” he said sternly. 
“ Do I understand that you are not a Catholic ? that you 
reject the authority of Holy Church, and are a heretic, 
a Lutheran, or a Calvinist, or perchance one of the 
aecursed Huguenot fanatics ? ” 

“ I am not a Catholic,” answered Bruno steadily, 
“nor do I follow Luther or Calvin, or any of the Huguenot 
Protestants. I am a philosopher, a man of science, 
and my thought fits not into any creed I know.” 

There was silence for awhile ; then the brave face 
and pleading eyes touched the king’s heart, despite his 
religion, and he stretched out his hand to the young man, 
bold enough to hold his own face-to-face with danger 
and with royal wrath. * 

“ Adieu !” he said gravely. “ Be silent on your 
heresy, if you value your life. Holy Church has sharp 
arguments wherewith to convince the unbeliever, and 
there are seats more uncomfortable than that of a pro- 
fessorship burdened with a mass. I will pray our Blessed 
Lady to bring you to a better frame of mind ; but if the 
doctors of the Sorbonne hear of your impious folly, even 
my favour may not avail to shield you.” 

And as the door closed, Giordano’s head dropped, 
and a weary look clouded the brightness of his face. 


Was he again to be a fugitive, a wanderer? Was there 
no rest for the man who had outgrown the superstition 
of Christianity ? 

In 1583, Bruno turned his face northwards, and 
travelled to England, bearing a letter from King Henry to 
Michael de Castelnau, French ambassador at the Court 
of Elizabeth, from whom he received friendly greeting 
and cordial hospitality. In the brilliant court of Elizabeth, 
Bruno found a congenial spirit in Sir Philip Sidney, the 
chivalrous and generous-hearted, and the Italian and the 
Englishman were soon closely knit in bonds of loyal 
friendship. Ever does Bruno speak tenderly and 
reverently of the rare mind and heart of his beloved 
friend. For Elizabeth herself, he conceived an intense 
admiration, and his praises of this Protestant Queen, 
worded with all the warmth and the exaggeration of 
that time, were used against him with terrible effect, 
when the bloodhounds of the Inquisition pulled him 
down in later years. “ No noble of her realm equals 
her in dignity, in heroism ; no lawyer is so learned ; no 
statesman is so wise. . . . She rises as a brilliant sun to 
shed light over the globe. By her title and her royal 
dignity, she is inferior to no monarch in the world. In 
the judgment, wisdom, and prudence she displays in 
governing, it is difficult to find a Queen who approaches 
her.” And this Elizabeth, so highly praised, was the 
excommunicated foe of Rome, the anathematised heretic 
who had rent England from the papal obedience. 

At that time England and Italy were as sisters, 
save in religion. Italian learning, Italian art and Italian 
literature — all found heartiest , welcome under English 
skies. Shakespeare found in Italy much of inspiration ; 
later, Milton travelled thitherwards to seek poetic 


culture ; the English court was as Italy to an Italian, 
and Bruno found himself surrounded there by memories 
of all he held most dear. Here might the knight-errant 
of liberty have found rest, had he been content to veil 
some of his boldest thoughts, and to pass merely as a 
Protestant, warring against the pretensions and the 
tyranny of Rome. But no such veiling was possible to 
Bruno, for soon came chance of bold speech — chance too 
tempting to be lost by the fiery Italian orator. 

The fair city of the Isis was en fete in June, 1583 ; 
as river Thames rolled past her dainty spires and tall 
battlements, he saw Oxford in her most gallant array, 
and heard the hum of many tongues. For the Earl of 
Leicester, Elizabeth’s haughty favourite, held his court 
there as the Chancellor of the University, and gave 
right royal welcome to the Count Albert de Lasco, 
having gathered there to do him honour England’s most 
learned sons. Purple-robed doctors were there in long 
procession ; splendid banquets were spread ; and on 
each day a literary tournament was held, in which 
philosophical theses were maintained and attacked, in 
which tongues served as lances and syllogisms as battle- 
axes. At last, when Oxford challenged all comers to 
meet her sons in wordy warfare, Bruno’s warrior-spirit 
flashed into fire, as when steel strikes flint. See him 
as he stands in the arena — beautiful, eager, eloquent, 
fighting anew the same old battle that he has fought in 
Italy, in Switzerland, in France. It is again the question 
of questions for the sixteenth century : Does the earth 
move ? Are there more worlds than one ? “ The earth 
is motionless ; the universe is finite and mobile,” said 
the University with Aristotle and Ptolemy. “The 
earth revolves, and the universe is infinite,” said Bruno, 


leaning on Philelaus and Copernicus. Bruno has left 
his own account of the struggle. “ The dispute grew 
envenomed ; my antagonists took refuge in sarcasms and 
insults. One, seizing pen and paper, cried : ‘ Look, be 
silent and learn ; I will teach you Ptolemy and Coperni- 
cus.’ But as soon as he began to sketch the spheres, it 
was clear that he had never opened Copernicus.” 

And he on whose side was the Truth silenced his 
opponents, though he stood alone ; and many a brow 
was bent darkly on the gallant Italian, as he strove for 
the honour of his mistress Science, and carried her 
colours victoriously through the fray. 

Then Bruno prayed for and obtained permission to 
lecture at Oxford, and there as at Paris, his lecture-room 
was crowded, though as he [walked along the streets 
men turned and muttered : ‘ Atheist ! ’ and priests, 
hearing that the Bible was not of authority in science, 
scowled bitterly at him as he passed, and sternly bade 
the young men leave alone the heretic and blasphemer, 
who would drag their souls to hell. 

At last England became too hot to hold any longer 
the bold philosopher ; his friends, Michael de Castelnau 
and Philip Sidney, * had both been called abroad, and 
their strong protection was no longer around him. 
Threats grew louder, the storm-clouds hung heavier ; 
and at last, early in 1586, Bruno fled from England to 
France once more, and held during three days in Paris 
at Whitsuntide a public dispute, still on the physics of 
Aristotle. This dispute put an end to his residence in 
Paris. Henry no longer dared to defend him, and the 
Sorbonne muttered threats of punishment; so Bruno 
was once more forced to fly, and turned his steps to 
Marburg in Hesse, hoping to find work and livelihood 


at the University there. At first, things looked brighter. 
In* the July of the same year a doctor’s degree was 
bestowed upon him, and strong, as he fancied, in this 
recognition, he begged permission to teach philosophy. 

As he waited this permission, regarded merely as 
a matter of form, Bruno’s heart grew light. Here at 
length he might teach freely ; here at length he might 
spread the truth he loved, and none would hinder him. 
As his messsenger returned with a silk-tied scroll in his 
hand, Bruno took it gaily and carelessly, and cut the 
silken thread with a smile on his lips. But see how 
his face changes ; see how his eyes darken ; the Rector 
of the University writes dryly that he is obliged to deny 
the permission asked for ; there are grave ‘ reasons ’ 
why Bruno should not be allowed to teach, and so forth. 
The passionate Italian leapt to his feet in fiery wrath, 
and swiftly made his way to the Rector’s house. Usher- 
ed into his presence, he flung the scroll on the table, 
and demanded to know what reasons were referred to. 
“ Doctor of your University have you made me, and 
the doctor’s right of teaching you deny me. Of what 
avail the empty title? Why do you treat me thus?” 

The frigid thin-lipped Rectdr, Pierre Nigidius, 
drew his mouth into an acrid downward curve : “ Your 
views, Dr. Bruno are not sound. They are not such as 
are safe in a teacher of the young.” 

“ Sound ? safe ?” cried Bruno impetuously. “ But 
if they are true ?” 

“ Truth must be measured by the divine standard, 
my dear Sir, and your teaching that the earth revolves 
flies in the face of Scripture.” 

“ So much the worse for Scripture,” answered the 
hasty Italian, careless of the Rector’s darkening face. 


“ You blasphemer ! ” he answered sharply. “ But 
no blasphemer shall teach in this city while I, Pierre 
Nigidius, have rule within its walls.” 

“Take back then your trumpery degree !” cried 
Bruno, in his wrath, “ for teacher who may not teach I 
will never be. Erase my name from the list of your 
University, and do me not an honour as empty as your 
own creed.” 

“ There is no difficulty in erasing your name,” 
sneered Nigidius, “ from a list that ought never to have 
been dishonoured by it. Erased it shall be before the sun 
goes down, as it is erased from the Lamb’s book of life, 
and look to yourself, blaspheming infidel, lest you learn 
that Marburg has prison for the heretic, be he foreign- 
er or citizen of the State.” 

So Bruno became once again a wanderer, and took 
refuge in Wiirtemberg. 

There for two years Bruno found rest in the bosom 
of the University in Wiirtemberg, where there prevail- 
ed “ liberty of speech and love of literature”. “ Wiirtem- 
berg,” he said, “ is the Athens of Germany. Minerva 
the virgin is its mother !” And he left behind him his 
grateful words of thanks to this noble asylum of learn- 
ing and of liberty, words that each should remember 
who may now tread the sacred streets of that German 
town : 

“ You did not question me as to my faith, which 
you did not approve ; you regarded only my love for 
charity and peace, for philanthropy and philosophy; 
you allowed me to be only friend of wisdom, the lover 
of the muses ; you did not forbid me to proclaim freely 
opinions contrary to the doctrines received among you. 
. . . Although philosophy is among you neither end 


nor means ; although your piety, sober, pure, primitive, 
makes you prefer ancient physics and the mathematics 
of the past, yet you allow me to profess anew system. . . . 
You did not grow angry ; you showed wisdom, humanity 
and urbanity, with the sincere wish to help and to serve. . . 
Far from restraining liberty of thought and from tarnish- 
ing your reputation for hospitality, you treated the 
traveller, the foreigner, the proscribed, as friend and 
fellow-citizen ; you allowed him to protect himself against 
poverty by teaching ; you repelled all the calumnies 
circulated about him during the two years that he spent 
within your walls, beneath the shade of your hospitality,” 
There is nothing to show why Bruno quitted this 
peaceful retreat, where he was safe, honoured and beloved. 
Perhaps his fiery warrior spirit could not rest happily 
where no combats were raging, and he yearned once 
more for the turmoil of hot theological controversy. Be 
that as it may, he left Wurtemberg in 1588, and went to 
Prague, where the Emperor Rudolph II was holding 
his court. To the Emperor Bruno presented some 
mathematical theses, having learned that Rudolph was 
a friend to learning, but Bruno’s heresy tainted his 
mathematics, and the Christian rtaler turned a cold face 
on the heretic thinker. So he travelled to Helmstadt, 
where he became tutor to the eldest son of the reigning 
Duke of Brunswick for a few months, and then, the 
Duke dying, persecution struck at him once more. 
Boethius, the head of the clergy, excommunicated him 
in open church, and all men thenceforth regarded him 
as outcast. For one year of struggle he held his ground, 
and then finding life was being made impossible for him 
he passed out once more among strangers, teaching ever 
the doctrines that he loved. 


And now Frankfurt knew him for a few months, 
from June, 1590 to February, 1591, and here he publish*- 
ed his last works, while his home-life was cared for by 
a family named Wechel, a member of which had been 
a friend of Sir Philip Sidney. In Frankfurt came to 
him a letter which drew him back to Italy, drew him 
back into the jaws of that Inquisition from which he 
had fled, and which had had its sleuth-hounds on his 
trail ever since. See him as he bends over the letter, 
his cheeks flushing with the thought of Italy. The 
scroll was signed ‘ Giovanni Mocenigo ’ ; it prayed him 
come to Venice as tutor, assuring him of full safety and 
of cordial welcome. The young noble who wrote was 
of a house strong enough to protect, and he pledged his 
faith that a secure home on Italian soil awaited the 
brilliant teacher, whose name for the last ten years 
had been ringing through Europe. 

The letter dropped from Bruno’s hands, as he rose 
slowly to his feet, and turned to the window which 
opened towards the south. 

“ Italia ! Italia ! ” he sighed, his own soft Neapolitan 
tongue falling from his lips in cadences most musical. 
“ My beautiful, my befcved ; shall I indeed see you once 
more ? Oh, to feel the air of Italy, after the heavy air of 
the north ! Oh, to see the skies of Italy, after these dull 
greys that are never blue ! ” 

His eyes sparkled, his pulses throbbed — but sudden- 
ly his head drooped, and a weary sadness settled on 
his face. 

“ The Inquisition ! What noble house can guard me 
from the cruel claws of the Roman wolf ? Italy, which 
cradled me, will be my grave, I fear me, if I listen to 
the pleadings of this youth, and dwell in Venice. Here 


at least, I am safe ; and if one town grows too hot for 
me, another is open to me. But there ! 0 Italy ! thy 
palaces cover thy dungeons, and thy beauty is the mask 
over the face of the familiar. ” 

The struggle of uncertainty was long ; but at last 
the yearning for Italy, the home-sickness, triumphed, 
and Giordano Bruno set his face Italianwards. He 
travelled through Switzerland, paying a brief visit to 
Zurich, and then, crossing the Alps, saw stretching be- 
low him, in their autumnal glory, the sunny plains of the 
Italy he had loved and left. He turned his steps first 
to Padua, unable to resist the temptation of raising his 
voice for science in that famous town, whose University 
had on its roll the most illustrious names of Italy. 
His audacity struck his friends with terror : “ It is said 
that the Nolan (Bruno), ” wrote Acidalino from 
Bologna to Forgacz, Baron de Gimes, then in Padua, 
“ is living and teaching among you. Is it so ? What 
can that man be doing in Italy, whence he was forced 
to flee ? I am astonished, stupefied, and cannot believe 
the rumour true, well authenticated as it is. ” 

A storm soon gathered round the intrepid heretic, 
and Bruno fled to Venice ; and in ‘March, 1592, we find 
him established in the palace of Giovanni Mocenigo. 
Here for about two months he dwelt in safety, pouring 
out for his pupil the treasures of learning he had acquir- 
ed. Often and often, as they passed silently in their 
gondola along the narrow waterways, they conversed 
freely on the controverted questions of the day, on the 
Copernican theory, on the authority of Rome in matters of 
science. Often as the stars shone down from the cloud- 
less sky, Bruno gazing at them would dazzle his com- 
panion with his dreams of other inhabited worlds and of 


the manifold life in endless forms distributed over the 
endless universe. Little did he guess that those views of 
A/s, spoken freely in friendly converse, were repeated day 
after day by his pupil’s lips into the ear of a dark-browed 
confessor, who later, in a parlour of the Inquisition, met 
his fellow-priests, and took counsel with them how 
Bruno might be betrayed unto them that they might 
put him to death. 

The September moon shone broadly over Venice, 
and Bruno stood leaning lazily against one of the 
columns which stood at the foot of the broad, white steps 
of the Mocenigo Palazzo, its base washed by the waters 
of the blue Adriatic Sea. In the glorious prime of his 
manhood, in the gracious beauty of his strength and 
vigour, he leaned there, gazing with those deep eyes 
of his at the ripples as they danced in the moonlight, 
at the brilliant full-faced moon hanging in the shim- 
mering air. “ How good life is ; how beautiful Nature 
is ; ” he mused, with a smile on his lips. “ Yet fools 
talk of hell-fire, and curse their brothers, under this 
serene expanse, amid this infinitude of worlds.” 

The moon-rays floated across the water, until the 
side of the canal which skirted the Mocenigo Palazzo 
lay in darkest shadow. None could see a gondola that 
slid swiftly and silently in till it lay at rest in the 
dimness beyond the steps on which Bruno lounged in 
his careless restful ease. 

“ How beautiful life is without the Gods,” he mur- 
mured. “ Mighty universal mother ! calm, serene, chang- 
ing amid changelessness ; marvellous in beauty ; 
glorious in majesty ; would they have me blaspheme 
thee that I might worship their puny fancies ? 0 eternal 
Beauty ! ” and he sprang to his feet, stretching out his 


arms to the infinite expanse ; “ 0 boundless space ! How 
could I live without thy fetterless freedom ? How could 
I exist without thy radiant ” 

The melodious voice rang out in its joy into the sweet 
evening air, and as its music rose a grating sound was 
heard. See ! that shadowed gondola is at the steps ; 
masked figures spring out and stain the moonlight with 
their darkness ; a black cloak is flung over the sunny 
head and stifles the harmony of the glorious tones into 
a gasp that is like a death-rattle ; the eyes have looked 
their last on the freedom of the dancing wavelets; never 
again shall those arms stretch out fetterless towards the 
boundless blue. Giordano Bruno is in the grip of the 
Inquisition, and never again, O noble soldier of Liberty, 
shall thine eyes range in freedom over the glory that 
had sunned thee from thy birth, and had become incar- 
nate in the radiance of thy shadowless joy in life. 

Hi 3K jK « « * 

It is dark, drear and damp in that low chamber where 
Bruno lies, a grim circle round him. He is naked, and 
he lies on a frame, his ankles and his wrists bound 
tightly, and the sunny head thrown back ; dauntless 
are brow and lip ; fearless the brigh| brave eyes ; and see 
that figure, crouching in the shadow ; it is Judas ; it is 
Giovanni Mocenigo, who has betrayed him to his doom. 

“ Come forth, Giovanni ! ” croaked a voice through 
the darkness. “ Reveal the blasphemy thou hast con- 

Judas was dragged within the range of those star- 
bright eyes, and shrank and cowered under their light ; 
his lips muttered, but could not speak. 

“ Nay, let the lad go ! ” rang out the sweet full 
tones in their ancient music, shaming the harsh echoes 


of the cell. “ Let the lad go ; poor boy ! he knows not 
what he has done. I make his confession for him. ^ I 
have lifted one corner of the veil that hides the mighty 
mother from her children. What need to torture a child 
when you are set to murder a man ? ” 

“ Blasphemer! heretic! the rack shall teach thee 
faith, ” foamed the masked inquisitor beside him, and 
at a sign the wheels turned, and the pulleys creaked, 
and under the fearful strain the sweat of agony streamed 
from the naked body, and brow and lips were writhen 
with intolerable pain. 

“ Now, heretic, recant ! Now pray for mercy to 
the God thou hast blasphemed, to the Church thou hast 
abandoned. Apostate monk, confess thy Master ! Recant 
thy heresies, and even now mercy is thine.” 

“ Truth that I have worshipped, keep me true,” fell 
from the white lips, gasping in their pain. And the 
bright head fell back, and merciful nature drew the veil 
of a swoon over the awful agony. 

The torturers lifted the strained body from the rack, 
and cast it, senseless, into a dungeon far beneath the 
level of the waves that lapped against the castle 
walls. And, for siy years Giordano Bruno lay, for 
truth’s sake, in that cell ! No sunlight ever touched him; 
no friend’s voice ever reached his ear ; no smile ever 
met his aching eyes ; no book cheered his loneliness ; no 
pen was granted to his numbed and wearied hand. He 
was buried living in the tomb. Such mercy gave the 
Christian to the man who dared to think. 


Eight years have passed, six in the tomb at Venice, 
and two since in Rome. The last two have been passed 
in controversy, and something of the old delight in strife 


has awakened in the long-stifled breast. But is this 
Bruno? The sunny hair has bleached in the darkness of 
the Venice dungeon ; the bright eyes are bleared when 
the unused sunlight touches them; the strong limbs are 
bent and weak as those of an old man. The Christians 
have starved and tortured his life out of him. The 
heretic is old in the prime of his manhood. 

But now the eight years’ martyrdom is nearly over. 
For the last time he stands before his judges. He is 
excommunicated as Atheist ; he is declared contumacious 
and irreconcilable; he is handed over to the civil officers, 
to be punished “ without the shedding of blood ” — grim 
formula of hypocrisy that doomed the heretic to the 
awful agony of the stake. 

Then sprang Bruno to his feet ; they had forced him 
to his knees to listen to his sentence. Once more rang 
out clear the voice whose music had been harshened in 
the dungeon : “ I think that you pronounce that sentence 
with more fear than 1 feel in hearing it.” And head 
erect, and face well-nigh joyful, he walked steadily from 
the hall. 

Eight days’ grace was yet given him in which to 
recant and deny the truth he believed ; but Bruno had 
not taught all through Europe, and borne eight long 
years of dungeon-pain, to turn recreant now to his 
mistress Truth. The 17th February dawns, and the day 
of his death is here. To the Campo dei Fiori they 
take him through a howling, fanatic crowd, composed 
in great part of pilgrims ; they have clad him in the 
sulphur-coloured garb of heresy, hideous with pictured 
devils and flames and crosses, but the dress cannot 
mar his dignity as he walks calmly on, his eyes 
bright, his forehead serene, his step firm and steady; 


a priest pushes forward and presses on him a crucifix, 
but Bruno turns away his head and will not touch it ; 
they bind him to the stake, and no word opens his lips ; 
the flames rise around him ; but no cry escapes from 
him ; to the end he is as serene as though he felt no 
agony, and the last glimpse the crowd catches of his 
face ere the flames sear it, shows it calmly proud as 
ever ; and now the smoke and the fire surround him 
and Giordano Bruno is gone for evermore. 

Gone? Ah ! not so! Bruno lives while men can honour 
courage, and love can reverence the memory of a noble 
heart. He died, but from his stake rings out the mes- 
sage he left, which may fitly form his epitaph : 



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f HE Tl^dgi 

iPhe TheoBophii^l Society was forniod 
porat^d at Madtas, April 3, 190$. It is ai 
Trath) strivilig to serve humanity on spirituj 
Vnaterialism and revive religious tendei^oy. 

First.— To form a nucleus of the Univei 
of race, creed, sex, caste or 

Second. — To encourage the study of com] 

Third. — T o investigate the unexplained la# 

The Theosophical Society is composed^J 
world w to none, who are united by their a]** 
remove religious antagonisms and to draw 
religious opinions, and % their desire to 8tu( 
their studies with others. Their bond of imii 
a common search and aspiration for Truth, 
study, by reflection, by purity of life, by dovoi 
prize to be striven for, not as a dogma to be imposed by authority. They consider that 
belief should be the result of individual study or intuition, and not its antecedent, and should 
rest on knowledge, not on assertion. They extend tolerance to all, even to the intolerant, 
not as a privilege they bestow, but as a duty they perform, and they seek to remove ignorance, 
not to punish it. They see every religion as an expression of the Divine Wisdom, and 
prefer its study to its condemnation, and its practice to proselytism. Peace is their watch- 
word, as Truth is their aim. 

[ents, belonging fib 
B^Of the aM|^'";object8. by 
r crf ^i^Md will, ' ihew 

;ouB' tiu^s and to share the pf, 

th^ profbwion of a common bcHef^bttt 
^Jhey hold should be sougtit by 

tO^ Wgh ideals, hTufthCy regard Truth as a 

Theosophy is the body of truths which forms the basis of all religions, and which 
cannot be claimed as the exclusive possession of any. It offers a philosophy which renders 
life intelligible, and which demonstrates the justice and the love which guide its evolution. 
It puts death in its rightful place, as a recurring incident in an endless life, opetiing the gate- 
way of a fuller and more radiant existence. It restores to the world the Science of the Spirit, 
teaching man to know the Spirit as himself, ‘:nd the mind and body as his servants. It 
illuminates the scriptures and doctrines of religions by unveiling their hidden meanings, and 
thus justifying them at the bar of intelligence, as they are ever justified in tho eyes of 

Members of the Theosophical Society study these truths, and Theosophists endeavour to 
live them. Every one willing to study, to be tolerant, to aim high, and to work persever- 
ingly, is welcomed as a member, and it rests with tho member to become a true Theosophiat. 


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